May Mid-Grade Madness!

Poor mid-grades.

Always the middle child. Always stuck between picture books and young adult novels. Often confused for chapter books. Sometimes they just don’t get the attention they deserve, do they? Well, your friendly bloggers Larissa, Susan and I have decided to do something about this by showcasing them in our next As The Eraser Burns Challenge!

I’m warning you – this one’s a toughie. And possibly insane, bordering on totally nuts, and thoroughly off-the-rocker.

Are you ready?

Okay, here it is.


We are officially announcing our MAY MID-GRADE MADNESS challenge, where participants will write an entire mid-grade rough draft in only . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . 72 HOURS!

No, that was not a typo. I said 72 hours!

And yes, we know. It’s crazy, huh? So maybe I better explain exactly how we came up with this idea by sharing the conversation the three of us recently had while leaving our favorite writing joint.

ME:  I’m so in the mood to write a book. Just sit down, and crank out a short, sweet and simple book.

LARISSA: Oh my gosh, me, too! I’d love to just pound out an entire manuscript without thinking or stopping or any interruptions.

[Note: There’s a possibility Larissa did not say, “Oh my gosh.” I threw that in for extra color.]

ME: You know what? We should, like, totally do a writing marathon or something.

[Note: There’s a good possibility that I did, in fact, say “like” and “totally,” because I, like, totally talk like a teenager way too often.]

LARISSA: Yeah, where we write an entire manuscript in, say . . . three days! And we can work here at the coffee shop. What do you think, Susan?

SUSAN: Um . . . well . . .

[Note: I should mention that Susan had just finished a major, monster writing project. Asking her at that moment was like asking a runner who’s just crossed a marathon finish line if they’d like to do a triathlon the next day. She’s since recovered and is totally on board!]

LAURA: Awesome. I’m so in, but my April is crazy. How about we do it in May?

LARISSA: Okay, we can call it May Mid-Grade Madness!

LAURA: Love it! And there’s no sense in us suffering all by ourselves. Let’s post this on the blog and make EVERYONE do it. Susan? You in?

SUSAN: Man, I don’t know, I just finished up with . . .

LARISSA: Yay, Susan’s in!!

And there you have it, how us bloggers ladies came up with the May Mid-Grade Madness Challenge! So what do you say, my friends, are you also so in the mood to write a book? A short, sweet, simple book?

You are? AWESOME!! Now. Does anyone have any questions?

Yeah, when will this take place?

Susan, Larissa, and I have chosen to complete our challenge May 28th – 30th and we’ll be posting Facebook updates documenting our madness along with photos of us pulling out our hair. If those dates work for you, please join us! If not, then feel free to choose your own dates. However. It must be three consecutive days–no taking a week off and coming back to the project!

(Unless, of course, there’s an emergency.)

How long does my mid-grade manuscript have to be?

It must be at least 20,000 words . . . which, yes, is a lot, but we’ve already warned you this is going to be a tough challenge!

What if my story ends up being only 18,000 words, should I write blah-blah-blah over and over 2,000 times?

No, there’s no need to write blah-blah-blah over and over again because–seriously–writing an 18,000 word manuscript in three days is pretty stinking awesome. To make up those extra 2,000 words, you can either write a short story, start a new manuscript, or do an article on writing tips. (Bonus if you’re brave enough to share it on the blog!)

Can I do any plotting or characterizations beforehand!

Sure, go for it. 🙂

What do I get for finishing?

Well, besides the satisfaction of completing an amazingly tough challenge, you’ll also get a major shout-out on the blog, a deliciously chocolatey treat at the conference, plus four entries into our July conference raffle basket! Plus, there will be an extra-special prize for the writer with the highest word count. 🙂

Will I have to submit my entry to qualify?

Nope, we’re going by the honor system again because we trust you!

Do I have to write mid-grade or can it be another genre?

Yep, “May Picture Book Madness” just doesn’t have the same ring! But never fear–we’ll be having challenges in the near future for both PB and YA fans. Until then, come on, jump into the mid-grade pool. The water’s great!

Cool, I’m so in. How do I enter?

All you have to do is leave a comment with your commitment 72-hour dates. Then leave another comment with your final word count. However, we’d love to hear about your progress on the way either here on the blog or on our Facebook page!

That’s it! Piece of cake, right? Let’s do this, folks!

And as my final bit of motivation, I would like to point out that I’ve heard it mentioned how editors are really looking for mid-grades . . .


Good luck, everyone, and happy writing!

About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
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34 Responses to May Mid-Grade Madness!

  1. Awesome! Count me in! I have to look at my calendar for dates, but I am definitely IN!

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Woo-HOO, so glad you’re jumping into the insanity, Lois!! We’ll be sending you wonderful writing vibes during your 72. 🙂

  2. I just finished my latest revision on my YA novel & wondered which project to work on next… Should I go back to one of my picture book drafts, the *other* YA novel, or start the MG novel that’s been kicking around in my brain for the past 6 months… I guess this moves the MG novel up to the top of the list!

    I have to look at my schedule before I officially pick dates (& finish my research for this novel), but count me in!

    • Laura Bowers says:

      AWESOME, way to step up to the plate, Rock Star!!! I knew you’d say yes. And it’s a good thing because I’d probably nag you if you didn’t. 😉 You’re on a roll with these challenges!

      • It took some doing to find a 3-day period in May that I could devote to this challenge, but DH helped me go through the calendar and carve out some time. I only have 1 thing scheduled for the morning of May 29th and nothing yet scheduled on the last 2 days of May, so that’s my 72 hours! (May 29-31)

        The kids have already been warned, I’ve started my research, & I’m excited to defend my Rock Star status 🙂

  3. erinhagar says:

    Oh my gosh! (Yes, I really say that!) I am SO in! I am days away (okay, maybe a couple of weeks) away from finishing MG #1, and a shiny new idea presented itself which would be perfect for this challenge, as it requires no research. This sounds not only like a lot of fun, but a wonderful motivator to finish my current WIP.

    Thanks so much, Laura. I’ll go May 26, 27, and 28th, and be sure to check in on FB.

    • Laura Bowers says:

      WOO-HOO, I’m so happy you’re joining us in the insanity, Erin! We want pictures and daily word counts, okay? GOOD LUCK!!!

  4. I might do it. I’ll have to see what days work. You won’t count my Nano scores against me, will you?

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Tricia, sweets, if anyone will have absolutely no problem with this challenge, it’s you! This one is made for you, so yeah, you seriously have to do it!! 🙂

  5. whimsicalisthenics says:

    Hokay, it’s on the calendar.

    • Laura Bowers says:

      AWESOME!! Let us know the dates you pick and please keep us updated with your progress! 🙂

  6. I’m in. Though I might have to steal a few hours on the 31st to make up for an eye doctor appointment on the 30th which includes glaucoma tests – (so I can’t postpone it, and I’ll be unable to focus enough to use computer for about 6 hours). I’d rather work along with you all than do the challenge later — I’ll be more motivated to push myself if I know my writing friends are doing the same thing. Good luck to everyone accepting the MG Madness challenge.

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Oops, I can’t believe I never replied back! Sorry, Vonnie, my head has been on backwards lately.

      But I’m so happy you’re joining us! Susan, Larissa, and I are actually now doing the challenge on May 29th – 31st, so we’ll be finishing with you. And it’s totally fine working around your eye appointment. Seeing is a good thing!

      Good luck! 🙂

  7. Ron Smith says:

    Nice to see all these responses. And I just finished writing a new MG!

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Thanks, Ron! And awesome, congratulations on finishing your new MG!! We’re going to be doing this again in 2013, (if we survive next week! ;)) so hopefully you can join us next time! 🙂

  8. erinhagar says:

    OK! It’s on, everyone. It’s Day 1, 9:30 and 1,000 words in. Got a later start than I wanted to, so I’ll have to make up some serious time today. Fueling up at Starbucks with Earl Grey and a banana. Might have to upgrade to a scone–maybe a treat after the next 1,000!

    • Laura Bowers says:

      AWESOME, way to go, Erin! Cranking out 1,000 words by 9:30 is a fabulous start and very well qualifies you for a yummy scone.

      Keep up the great work! We’re cheering you on! 🙂

  9. erinhagar says:

    Can I hit 3,000 words by noon? Maybe! Fingers flying….

  10. Laura Bowers says:

    NICE!! You’re doing an amazing job, Erin, and thanks for the updates!

    {{{{{ Sending you all sorts of writing vibes }}}}}

  11. Janet Daly AlJunaidi says:

    I can only do May 31 and June 1 and 2. School volunteering Tues and field trip Weds. Can I still do it? Have a MG story based on my 6th grade year in the 70s that I’ve been thinking about for 2 years!

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Absolutely, Janet, that’s totally fine since you’re starting in May. Our biggest priority is getting people WRITING, so we’re not going to get all hung up on rules.

      And that’s so cool how yours is going to be set in the 70’s! Mine is going to be in 1974. Should we dress in bell bottoms? Big collared shirts? Wanna do a Toni perm together to get us in the mood? No? Okay, I was just asking . . . 😉

      Best of luck and be sure to report your progress so we can cheer you on!! 🙂

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  14. I did it! I write my first drafts in pencil, so I won’t know my official word count until I finish typing everything up, but the story is finished, and I’m hopefully optimistic about reaching the word count goal. Here’s what I know so far:

    Day 1: I wrote 21 pages & ended up with 7,072 words when I typed it up….

    Day 2: I wrote 21 1/2 pages & ended up with 5,685 words when I typed it up…

    Day 3: I wrote 26 1/2 pages. I will type it up tomorrow and see if I made my overall goal (I need at least 7,243 words from those pages)!

    Thanks for the challenge. This was FUN 🙂

    P.S. No, I’m not really crazy, writing all of my drafts in pencil. I’m just superstitious. I have a pencil collection that I started when I was in 2nd grade, and I told everyone in school that I wasn’t going to sharpen the pencils until I was ready to be a real author… and then I was going to write my first published book with these pencils. I sharpened the first pencil from the collection in October of 2008, when I decided it was time to be a real writer…. But until I have at least one book published, I have to write everything with these pencils – Because that’s what I’m going to use to write my first published book 🙂

    Seriously, though, it does help me to get into a very focused writing mode, when I pull out my pencils that can only be used for writing stories (no to-do lists, homework or other mundane tasks).

    • Well, it looks like I have to relinquish my rock-star status. I just finished typing my pages from day 3, and my total word count was 19,481. I totally blame it on the stuff I had to do for our move! If I hadn’t wasted 5 hours on medical clearance interviews on Tuesday, I could have typed it up before the 72 hours were up, and then I could have added the two scenes I accidentally skipped over (wrote ’em in my mind while taking care of things, forgot to write them down when I got back to my notebook) when I typed this up 😦 *cries*

      • Laura Bowers says:

        Nope, that’s a negative, Captain, you most certainly will keep that Rock Star status because 19,481 words in 72 hours–that are HANDWRITTEN, even–is AMAZING!! Super, super, super job, Veronica, you should be incredibly proud of yourself. 🙂

        And our next challenge is totally on–finishing the manuscript and doing one round of edits by the conference!! 🙂

  15. Now that I’ve had a few days to contemplate, I’m even more grateful for this amazing challenge. I walked away from this 72-hour challenge with much more than just a new manuscript to play with (although that, in itself, is pretty awesome). I blogged about my thoughts on the process, if you’re interested.

    I’m determined to get through one round of edits before the July conference (still keeping fingers crossed that I’ll get to go)!! 😀

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